I just discovered a new web tool that might interest our readers: DECC (Department of Energy and Climate Change) has developed the 2050 Calculator, an exiting tool where you can create a UK emissions reduction pathways and see its impacts. This cool application is based on actual UK data, and it’s made possible through the use of Linked Open Data.
The tool visualizes energy demand, supply of energy and greenhouse gas emissions for the UK. Demand for energy covers themes such as transport, domestic heating and national freight. Supply of energy includes all types of renewable energy as well as conventional types of generation. Usually one can act out several “levels” of ambition (level 1 to level 4), from little to high effort. Clean (solar) electricity imported from Southern Europe, or in the future possibly from the Sahara, can be integrated as part of the four levels regarding “electricity imports”.
Sometimes you will find the levels A, B, C, D – these levels represent different scenarios rather than levels of ambition. For example how biomass could be used, solid or as liquid, are types of such scenarios.
If you want to dig deeper into one of these sectors, you can find out details by clicking on the name of that sector.
While of one can play out lots of different scenarios pretty freely, there are some restriction in order to stay realistic. For example it’s not possible to plaster all rooftops with P.V. as well as solar thermal collectors, and if there is to be more district heating, a switch to strictly non-thermal electricity is not allowed. I quite like that as that’s a crucial part about low-carbon energy – choices have to be made.
While the tool is completely based on real data it doesn’t make assumption about the rest of the world, for example how the carbon market might influence development.
It’s also possible to discuss and share pathways and to further understand some of the implications of heading down a certain direction. Original analysis is also available on the site. An excel sheet free to download gives you all the nitty-gritty details – it can be used for scenario modeling and peer review.
The 2050 Calculator gives technicians, policy makers, interested public, staff of ministries the possibility to gain much deeper understanding of the challenges we are going to face. At the same time it is a well-developed tool that is fun to toy around with and another great example of how Linked Open Data can be applied.
For students and the general public there is a faster and easier way to play around with energy-related data: My2050 is a great way to play around with supply and demand. You can adjust how to generate your power, be it fossil, nuclear or renewable. One the other hand, demand can be controlled too: will houses be better insulated? How will the manufacturing industry change? What cars will we drive? Once you have made your choices, you will quickly see whether you are producing enough energy. To make it even tougher, your world in 2050 must get down to 20% or less in CO2 emissions. Again, data comes from the UK’s Linked Open Data at data.gov. uk.